XQ Institute is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready to succeed in life.


XQ Institute works in communities throughout the country—from individual schools to entire school systems—to help them dream big about what high school could be, and turn those innovative ideas into action to create more rigorous and equitable schools. 

XQ was co-founded by board chair Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of Emerson Collective, and Russlynn Ali, XQ’s CEO and former U.S. assistant secretary of education for civil rights. XQ’s board of directors also includes Geoffrey Canada, Marc Eckō, Jimmy Iovine, Michael Klein, and Yo-Yo Ma.


XQ Institute was looking for an innovative way to directly engage and mobilize its four core audiences—students, educators, families, and community members. The organization also needed robust segmentation capabilities to send highly relevant content tailored to each audience that inspires discussion, innovation, and action. “Our job is to educate, entertain, and inspire each of our audiences so they not only know that change is possible, but they also have the tools and resources to create that change,” explains Patrick Starzan, Director of Growth at XQ Institute. The organization was looking for a new platform that seamlessly integrates with its different digital products. 

Attentive’s features and dashboards are so easy to use. As they released new features, we were able to drive audience growth and meet our audiences where they are.”

– Silvia Li Sam, Senior Associate of Growth Marketing, XQ Institute


Partner with Attentive to quickly scale a text messaging program by growing and segmenting its list of engaged mobile subscribers. Create tailored, individual subscriber experiences—based on XQ’s four audiences—with thoughtful, relevant content throughout the subscriber lifecycle. “When we think about building community, you can only do that by having a dialogue and building relationships at scale,” says Starzan. “SMS is a great opportunity for us to actively invite our audience to have a conversation with us, learn from each other, and ensure we’re providing them with the resources they need.” 

Attentive was very hands-on from the get-go. They advised us with thoughtful strategies tailored to our needs and helped us execute them more effectively than we have in the past.”

– Patrick Starzan, Director of Growth, XQ Institute


XQ Institute drives opt-ins for its personalized text messaging channel through mobile landing pages using Attentive’s “two-tap” sign-up creatives. After a subscriber joins, they are invited to identify as an “educator,” “parent,” “student,” or “neighbor” by responding with the respective keyword. XQ Institute then automatically replies with a piece of content targeted to what the subscriber is interested in. Subscribers who respond with a keyword are automatically added to a dynamic segmented list so XQ can continue to share content that is relevant to each particular audience. “Segmentation has been the key to our quick success with SMS,” explains Starzan. “The first thing we did when we partnered with Attentive was build a custom welcome series to help us get to know each of our subscribers and add them to dynamic segments. We’re now able to have valuable conversations with subscribers that are relevant to their own experiences.” 

As part of its national primetime special to celebrate the high school senior class of 2020, #GraduateTogether, XQ Institute drove opt-ins to its text message program by displaying unique Text-to-Join (TTJ) keywords at the bottom of the screen throughout the event. Each keyword corresponded to one of XQ Institute’s core audiences. Once a subscriber opted in to XQ Institute’s text messaging channel, they received customized content related to how they could take action in their communities post-event. Following the broadcast, XQ Institute mobilized subscribers by sending a follow-up text message with three calls to action mentioned during the event. “We put our segmentation strategy to test on prime time with #GraduateTogether. We partnered with NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and all of the major digital platforms like Youtube, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter to celebrate the high school class of 2020—and over 60 million viewers,” says Starzan. “Our goal was to convert this highly engaged audience into SMS subscribers. To do so, we had multiple calls-to-action with dedicated keywords for our segments throughout the show. Each keyword led the subscriber through a personalized onboarding journey. The results were impressive—they not only engaged with us during the broadcast, but remained engaged with us to this day.”  

As we segment our subscribers, we get to experiment with a lot of different tones depending on the audience and what’s going on in the world. We’re able to communicate with them in the appropriate tone, and show empathy toward what they’re experiencing.”

– Patrick Starzan, Director of Growth, XQ Institute

XQ Institute has transformed its text channel into a discussion forum. In its welcome drip campaign, the organization asks subscribers, “What part of rethinking high school excites you the most? Reply to this message. Really, we want to know.” The message sees strong engagement and provides the XQ Institute team with further insights into its subscribers. 

The education organization also sends text messages cross-promoting audience-specific content from the Rethink Together Forum, a platform where students, educators, and families can discuss how to #ReThinkHighSchool in their communities, as well as its Instagram account, which offers students a platform to express themselves creatively. “We’ve created a virtuous loop between our digital channels, including our Instagram and our new Rethink Together Forum,” explains Starzan. “For example, our Instagram channel is primarily content from students sharing what it’s like to be a high school student in America today. We bring these stories onto our SMS channel, and then invite subscribers to submit their own stories.”


During the #GraduateTogether broadcast event, XQ Institute grew its text messaging subscribers by 56.55%. In preparation for the event, XQ built a custom welcome series to further engage subscribers post-event. Each TTJ welcome series drove strong engagement—95% of students, 41% of parents and educators, and 78% of community members clicked through on custom welcome messages. 

XQ Institute also ensures to keep the conversation with its audience relevant to current events. After national protests took place during the coronavirus pandemic, the organization shared anti-racist resources with its text messaging subscribers. Subscribers are highly engaged with this ongoing series—for example, a recent text message sharing film recommendations saw a click-through rate of 14.1%. 

As for future plans to scale its text messaging program, XQ Institute is excited to continue strategically curating and promoting content from the Rethink Together Forum, as the platform continues to grow and evolve, as well as showcase new product launches that help its audience #ReThinkHighSchool so that every student is set up for success. “We’re finding a way to segment all the content we create for the Forum so we can share it with each relevant audience,” explains Starzan. XQ Institute also plans on using responses it’s received as part of its welcome series on social media. 

By creating a personalized welcome flow series with Attentive, we're able to target content that is relevant to each of our particular audiences. Prior to working with Attentive, we had seen little-to-no growth on our SMS channel. We quickly started seeing 20%+ click-through rates on campaign messages in the first month of working with Attentive.

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